I started testing holiday recipes this week — mostly sides and desserts. I made a chocolate chess pie, which I really thought would be a contender. It was good, but not classic, make once a year, talk about at family gatherings for years to come good.
But this recipe — this is good. And it makes use of what I have in excess, now that daylight saving time has come and my CSA share is over: squash, cabbage, garlic and onion.
Some of you may shake your fists at me because this is a very bastardized version of golumpki, the beloved meat-stuffed cabbage roll that has important significance for a lot of people in the Berkshires. But please, hear me out.
For everyone's sake, I will not refer to this recipe as an "elevated" version of the classic. It can be a hipster version, a side or main dish that stuffs the flavors of fall into a little cabbage pocket, a grand mixture of sausage, butternut squash, brown rice, carrots, onion and garlic. It's worth trying, and I think I'm going to bring it to my family for consideration this Thanksgiving. I think it will nestle in well on our plates and be a good complement to turkey and mashed turnips and potatoes and those awesome pearl onions in creamy sauce. Bring on the holiday season! I'm so excited.
Makes around 30
Two small or one large head of cabbage (I used one Napa and one regular)
½ pound hot sausage
1 butternut squash, roasted
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 onion, chopped
3-4 medium carrots, chopped
¾ cups cooked brown rice
1-2 Tbsp cornmeal
salt and pepper
scant ½ tsp tarragon, sage and thyme (use fresh herbs if you can!)
Roast butternut squash for an hour at 350 degrees, and cook brown rice three-quarters of the way. In a bowl, mix chopped onion, garlic, sausage, rice, butternut squash, salt, pepper, herbs, egg and cornmeal and set aside.
Let a big pot of water come to a rolling boil, and prepare a bowl of ice water. Chop off bottom of cabbage for Napa, or cut out the stem of a standard cabbage and toss into water for 2 to 3 minutes, then strain and toss leaves into ice water to stop the cooking process. Chop any leaves that are too small and mix them into your filling.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and drizzle a 13x9x2 glass baking pan with olive oil. Lay one cabbage leaf flat on a cutting board. Make an oval of filling, around 3 to 5 tablespoons, and place at bottom of cabbage leaf. Roll up the filling, turning the sides of the leaves over as though you're folding a burrito or an eggroll. Place each roll in your glass baking pan, seam side down. Pack your pan tightly! I got 31 in mine. Bake for 1 hour, 30 minutes.
A note: I baked these without sauce, but warmed up some tomato sauce at the last minute and served these in a little red sauce puddle. You are welcome to bake these the traditional way, with sauce on top and bottom through the whole 1 hour and 30 minutes. I used a tomato puree I had made and then frozen during peak tomato season; canned sauce will do, though these are kind of involved to make, so it seems like a shame to put canned sauce on them.